Garry Johnson was the first and the best of Britain’s street-punk poets. A former Borstal boy, his Boys Of The Empire collection brought poetry to a whole generation of working class punks and Skins. He was radical, anti-racist and anti-Establishment. His message was black and white working class youth have the same enemy and the same interests. Class was all that mattered to Garry.
“The Voice Of Oi is unity.” he wrote. “No them and us. just you and me. Think how strong we can be, united against society. Garry became a poet by accident. “I‘d formed my own punk band. The Buzz Kids.” herecalls. “One night in East London we played our first and last gig “I was speeding out of my head and thought I was the future of rock ‘n’ roll. In my mind, I was Johnny Rotten meets Ziggy Stardust. “We had seven songs. ‘including ‘National Service, ‘Dead-End Yobs‘ and a cover of ‘Ziggy Stardust’. “I wanted to sing them, but I accepted I couldn’t carry a tune. Garry had always loved music. “From my early teens I was obsessed with David Bowie. I wanted to be Bowie. But things were very different in those days.
There was no easy entry into the media/rock music...or so I thought at the time. “Now, because I’ve done a lot of reading - something I never did at school, much to my shame I was only interested in girls and football ~ I’ve realised I was wrong about that and that great music always came from the working class...all the way back to the blues, and then on through Elvis and the Beatles, the Small Faces. the Kinks, right through to Brixton boy Bowie whose mum was a waitress and whose dad worked for Barnardo’s. All of them were geniuses from humble roots”.
“Then it was punk and not books that made me realise working class kids could become stars. I saw The Sex Pistols and saw Johnny Rotten... and my life changed. I loved it all, the Pistols, The Clash. The Jam, The Buzzcocks, X Ray Spex...
“I like poets who can really write like Bob Dylan with ‘Hurricane’, Paul Weller’s lyrics are my favourite poems he’s a poet genius! I like Linton Kwesi Johnson and John Cooper Clarke, and early Elvis Costello as well. I admire Rotten, Weller. Costello, Dury, BOWIE, John Lennon. All smart people. Music is the most important thing in the world, better then football, better then drugs...My life would’ve been so boring without all of the bands l’ve mentioned already and Trojan reggae, Rod Stewart and The Faces, Roxy Music. Mott The Hoople, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan. Squeeze, Cockney Rebel and hundreds more.
1. The New Face Of Rock n’ Roll
2. The Boys Of The World
3. The Gangster Of Slang
4. From Oxford Street To Gretna Green
5. Beat Of The Street
6. National Service
7. Father’s Day
8. Pun Rock Stories & Tabloid Tales
9. Suburban Rebels
10. The Deadend Yobs
11. United / The Voice Of Oi
12. Newton Brown
13. Something’s Missing (The One That Got Away)
14. The London Boys – As performed by Gary Johnson
15. Ballad Of The Young Offenders
16. Boys Of The Empire
17. The Chelsea Girls
18. Suburban Rebels
19. Beat Of The Street